Coronavirus Information and Update: Fall 2021 Plans

December 07, 2020

Career Services Blog

Jobs in the Time of Corona: Should I apply to that job?

by Jessica Peterson, Career Services Graduate Assistant

Post-graduation life is a doozy in the best of times. After spending years doing the demanding work of attaining a degree, there are equally-felt senses of relief in finishing, pride in the accomplishment, and stress about finding a job.

Not just a job, though. Many people pursue some kind of higher education, including law degrees, precisely because they had been working a job—a job that they weren’t excited about, weren’t interested in, or that didn’t meet their needs. Or, they were repeatedly met with the classic scenario of needing the job to get experience, but needing experience to get the job. Or, seeing job postings in their chosen field for positions that they were confident they could do, but which required a certain level of post-undergraduate education they don’t yet have.

The list goes on.

It makes sense, then, that once a student completes their JD, they would be ready to wash their hands of all of these things. They are now qualified for the jobs they want, and they no longer have to settle, right? Also, surely there are legal jobs aplenty—job security is one of the reasons many people pursue law in the first place.

Unfortunately, the rules and expectations of the world pre-COVID don’t apply to our current reality, as we all keep learning time and again. Practically every industry and profession is taking a hit, so not only are the pre-existing challenges being exacerbated, there are new barriers to navigate as well.

With all this in mind, it is understandably frustrating—maddening, even—to not have many opportunities in a preferred practice area or specialization, or to see salaries that are lower than expected. The disappointment and stress surrounding these things is valid. It is not unreasonable to want a job that you are skilled in and passionate about, and to want to be paid well for it.

However, considering the messy, indefinite situation we are all currently in, it may be helpful to keep in mind that taking a job because you need one is not a sacrifice of your self-worth. It is not an insult to your abilities. It does not diminish your accomplishments. If anything, it is an act of self-care to prioritize your livelihood and ensure that you are able to meet your needs.

Also, no matter what the job is, there will be something valuable for you in the experience. Even if it feels like it’s not relevant to what you want to do, inevitably there will be an important connection, an enlightening experience, a new skill or practice area to dabble in, and different perspectives to learn from. You will learn something about yourself and your field at any place you work.

And hey, nobody said you can’t keep searching for jobs after you’ve landed one. You may even find that the search is far less discouraging when you’re already employed; rejections don’t feel as big of a blow, and you’ll find it easier to keep your momentum going. You will also have some experience under your belt, which will make you a stronger candidate.

So, while it may feel frustrating, try to incorporate these things into your outlook as you search for jobs:

  • You are not selling yourself short by applying for jobs out of need
  • Being able to provide for yourself will always make searching for jobs less overwhelming
  • Stay curious and open-minded about what you can get out of an experience
  • Continue to explore, network, and apply for other opportunities
  • There is always the option to advocate for yourself in your current position to get what you need
  • Accepting jobs that aren’t the best fit for you is a temporary (and valid) solution
  • Be patient, persistent, and kind to yourself during the process.

To return to our original question, should you apply to that job? Well, if the alternative is no job, then the likely answer is yes. Usually, doing something will always feel better than not; as Joan Baez said, “Action is the antidote to despair.”